In a few weeks we will be celebrating the second anniversary of our Courtney’s death. Two years. How is that even possible? Time seems to spill through my fingers like water these days and I am struggling to keep pace with it.
How am I?
Well, being completely open and honest, there are good days, great days, hard days and days that are like black holes of sadness.
This time of year feels sacred to me, not just as a Catholic, but as a mother who has faced the hardest day any mother can face, and lived to tell the tale.
There is a heaviness to my heart that comes with the change of seasons. One day there is a brisk wind and the leaves begin to fall and the next it feels like a bracing frigid wind that blasts relentlessly and you have a hard time catching your breath as you brace yourself for more to come.
I miss my daughter. I miss her smile. I miss her laughter. I miss her beautiful blonde curls. I miss the sweet smell of her freshly washed hair as she snuggled into me waiting for her nightly story time. I miss the weight of her in my arms.
I think I miss that the most.
On the best days, I laugh as I share a memory with a friend about my determined feisty Courtney. On the good days, I will hold a photograph in my hands, tracing her face, grateful for the knowledge that God now holds her close to Him. On the hard days, I hear a song that jolts my memory and stops me in my tracks, making my hands shake and tears spill at the drop of a hat. On those dark black hole days, there is weeping, begging God to restore my broken heart and to be my strong tower in the midst of one hell of a grief storm.
Most people have moved on in these two years. They don’t talk about her as much, choosing to live in the present and I totally get that. It is the circle of life after all.
For me, I need to talk about her. I need to share her legacy of love with others. I need to speak her name. It’s how it will always be for me, her mother, her caregiver, her protector, her voice on earth. To speak her name, is to speak God’s love and faithfulness out into the world and the world these days needs all the help it can get.
Courtney means “strength of God” and my daughter could not have carried a better name, for she was fiercely strong from the first moment of her life to the last. Her middle name Elizabeth means “God is abundance”. This name is shared with me and my paternal Grandmother. We were named for Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin and John the Baptist’s mother. She was woman of tremendous faith who never wavered in her faith in and trust of the Lord and miracles sprang from that sacred relationship.
Strength and God’s abundance. Words that aptly describe my daughter. God gave his strength in abundance to my daughter and myself as we traveled twenty-two years of life together. Not an easy journey for one second but one filled with faith, grace and so much joy.
This week is Thanksgiving. It’s a time for families to gather and share a meal, keeping at the forefront what they are thankful for. It’s a time for abundant grace to spill out into the community of our extended family and friends as well. It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate.
What makes it challenging for me is the realization that someone is missing from my table and that someone will not be returning.
So what’s a mama to do?
Well, I take it one day at a time as I have always done. I ask God to direct my steps, my words, and my hands as I serve. I offer back to God my tears and sorrow, as a gift in recognition of the love He showed me on the cross. His mother wept for Him, so he understands my tears fro Courtney. I don’t hide them, I allow them to spill over my heart until the well is dry.
When one has loved hard, without holding back the grief that comes from that loss is deep and never fully departs.
Yes, there is joy. Yes, there is laughter. Yes, life is very good.
My heart was shattered with Courtney’s last breath and only the Potters hands can repair it, cementing it back together with His abundant love, mercy and grace.
I am healed in Him who gave His life for me.
One day, God willing, I will hear Courtney’s laughter again and I will run my hands through those curls and I will know once more the weight of her in my arms.
Until then, with a most thankful heart, I will gather with my remaining family and dear friends and celebrate this beautiful life we’ve been given. I will praise God for the gift of being her mother this side of heaven and give thanks for the lessons she taught me.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends. Know that I am praying for each of you and I thank you for ALL of your prayers for me and my family.
So very grateful for each of you.